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Sony Launches AMD "Polaris" Powered PlayStation 4 Pro

Sony today announced an addition to its PlayStation family of entertainment systems, with the new PlayStation 4 Pro (PS4 Pro). The PS4 Pro isn't meant to succeed the PS4, and is still a "current generation" console, in that all of its games are compatible with the PS4, and there won't be PS4 Pro-exclusive games. What sets it apart is higher-resolution game rendering that looks best on 4K Ultra HD TVs. This doesn't necessarily mean that the games are being rendered at 3840 x 2160 pixels. They could be rendered at resolutions higher than 1080p, and using just the right upscaling algorithms, made to look significantly better than 1080p. Another key visual component is hardware HDR. The PS4 Pro falls in line with Sony's big push for 4K HDR TVs this holiday shopping season.

Under the hood, the PlayStation 4 Pro features an all new semi-custom SoC designed by Sony and AMD. The CPU component sticks to the "Jaguar/Puma" architecture, with 8 cores, but features higher CPU clock speeds. The 8 GB GDDR5 memory is said to run at higher clocks, too, and is bolstered by new lossless memory compression tech by AMD. The GPU component is where the action is. The GPU features over double the shading power of the PS4, and is based on the "Polaris" GPU architecture. The PS4 Pro also ships with a bigger 1 TB hard drive. There is seamless interplayability between PS4 and PS4 Pro. PS4 games you already own are being added with higher-resolution content meant for PS4 Pro. The console also has the muscle for PS-VR. For those still holding on to 1080p HDTVs, the PS4 Pro rewards with higher visual detail, more geometric complexity, and better effects, at that resolution. The PS4 Pro starts at $399.

28 nm struggles: TSMC & GlobalFoundries

Making silicon chips is not easy, requiring hugely expensive fabs, with massive clean-room environments and at every process shrink, the complexity and difficulty of making the things goes up significantly. It looks like TSMC and GlobalFoundries are both having serious yield problems with their 28 nm process nodes, according to Mike Bryant, technology analyst at Future Horizons and this is causing a rash of non-working wafers – to the point of having nothing working with some chip designs submitted for production. It seems that the root cause of these problems are to do with the pressures of bringing products to market, rather than an inherent problem with the technology; it just takes time that they haven't got to iron out the kinks and they're getting stuck: "Foundries have come under pressure to release cell libraries too early – which end up with designs that don't work," Bryant said. In an effort to try and be seen to treat every customer equally, TSMC is attempting to launch ten 28 nm designs from seven companies, but it's not working out too well: "At 45-nm, only NVIDIA was affected. At 28-nm any problems for TSMC will be problems for many customers" said Bryant.

AMD Announces FirePro V4900 Professional Graphics Card

AMD today launched the AMD FirePro V4900, which delivers unequaled performance for Digital Content Creation (DCC) and Computer Aided Design (CAD) professionals at an entry-level price point. By leveraging AMD's most advanced graphics technology, including AMD Eyefinity technology, the AMD FirePro V4900 significantly improves application performance and drives efficiency in the workplace. In fact, the AMD FirePro V4900 more than doubled the performance of competitive offerings in many CAD and DCC application tests.

"The AMD FirePro V4900 stands in a league of its own and redefines entry-level professional graphics card capabilities," says Sandeep Gupte, general manager of Professional Graphics, AMD. "The AMD FirePro V4900 leverages AMD's most advanced graphics technology, which not only enhances user experience and boosts performance of professional applications, but also features AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology that supports up to six displays, increasing user productivity."
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